Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pathfinders ... by any other name

I found a great link on the library school listserv today.  A student at LIU who's interning at a branch of the NYPL has been creating pathfinders to complement the art exhibits the library has been hosting.  Read the article here at the Library as Incubator Project.

It's funny 'cause it seems I've been creating Pathfinders to support our library programs for a couple of years now, I've just been calling them bibliographies. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Spanish for Librarians

How cool is this.  Mango, the language self-instruction program we offer at the library, is offering librarians something special.  Spanish for Librarians.  Excellent.  Here's the link to the website. I love the Mango programs.  I've used the Spanish instruction a few times, trying to remind myself of my college Spanish.  Also, just for fun they have a short course on speaking pirate.  My kids got a real kick out of it.  Something to remember since Talk Like a Pirate day is coming up in September.
I've just started working with Spanish for Librarians.  We started with the basics.  Hello, good morning.  My name is ...  Always a great place to start.  I can't wait to see where we end up.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Thursday, August 16, 2012

In defense of books

I came across an insightful article today about the importance of reading and books.  I must say I agree.  As Emily Dickinson said, "There is no frigate like a book."  Books transport us to different times and places.  They introduce us to new ideas and new ways of thinking.  They comfort us, protect us, challenge us, and teach us.  A life without books would be a very, very sad thing indeed.
And too many of us are living that very sad life.  We are so caught up in our gadgets and "social" networks and busy-ness that we have lost touch with each other and ourselves.  In a world of instant answers and instant gratification we have no time for books.  What a loss.  What a waste.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The end of Reference?

I visited a local library yesterday that has done away with its Reference collection.   The books are gone, the space has been repurposed.  There is a small ready reference collection behind the Information desk.  I noticed several copies of the most popular college guides in the circulating non-fiction collection.  I hope some of their other reference works have also been moved to circulating non-fiction.  There is a print encyclopedia in a corner of the YA department.  The head of Adult Reference explained that she felt the collection was unused and therefore unnecessary.

I wonder.

The Reference collection is the most underused collection in the library.  But does that mean it is unnecessary?  I don't think so.  I think it is time to re-think the Reference collection.

To that end I did a little (very little) research and found this blog post from Brian Herzog, the Swiss Army Librarian (cool library blog), about the overhaul he gave the reference collection in his library in Massachusetts. In brief, they weeded the heck out of the collection, moved many of the single volume books into circulating non-fiction, and converted the remaining reference collection into small, free-standing, easily accessible subject collections.  The circulating reference is 7-day, non-renewable, and non-requestable (by other libraries). They converted the space into three 8x8 quiet study rooms.

I like it.

I like that there's still a Reference collection.  If we dump the entire collection aren't we throwing up our hands and saying 'Google wins'?  I like the fact that Herzog recognized that patrons want more access to the books not less.  Is it scary to let a big, expensive reference book walk out under the arm of a teenager?  Absolutely.  But isn't it scarier to let that kid go home thinking the library is a pain in the butt and it's easier to find his answers on Google?

I think it's time to reintroduce our patrons to the Reference collection.  Tell them what we've got.  Show them how it can help.  It's time for a little good old fashioned marketing.  Maybe some subject heading signs next to the Dewey numbers.  Maybe a display of some eye-catching Reference.  Could we make the first 5 photocopies free if its a Reference Book?  And maybe, just maybe it's time to let them check a few of our babies out.